Liverpool’s Premier League season got off to a somewhat stuttering start after a home 1-1 draw against Sunderland.
Luis Suarez was on the score sheet for the Reds but the Uruguayan striker also missed a penalty and looked tired as the game went on.
Liverpool got off to a great start as their play in the first half completely dominated Sunderland in all areas, reducing Steve Bruce’s team to route 1 football that Asamoah Gyan and Stephane Sessegnon could not get on to the end of the speculative long balls from the back.
Kenny Dalglish’s team passed the ball around in style but it was Sunderland who created the first chance when Sebastian Larsson’s corner was flicked towards goal by Wes Brown but it was an easy take for Pepe Reina; the former Manchester United defender didn’t know much about it.
Another corner for Sunderland resulted in a counter attack from Liverpool in which Suarez was clean through on goal, but his touch to round the keeper was too heavy and the chance looked to have gone until Kieran Richardson bundled the Liverpool player to the ground.
Referee Phil Dowd displayed leniency towards Richardson and the Sunderland left back got off with just a booking.
Suarez blasted his penalty over Mignolet’s crossbar but he soon made amends when Sunderland gave away a free kick on the edge of their own area.
Charlie Adam whipped in a cross with dangerous pace and at a difficult height for Sunderland to defend and Suarez was first to the ball, heading it past Mignolet and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to Liverpool in the 12th minute.
Liverpool went on to control the game and passed the ball around the midfield with confidence while Sunderland could get nowhere near them.
Stewart Downing impressed in the first half and one particular effort had the Anfield faithful on their feet when the former Aston Villa midfielder picked the ball up in on the half way line, ran down the right wing, cut inside and unleashed a shot that rocketed off Sunderland’s cross bar.
Sunderland were lucky to escape the first half with just a one goal deficit but they looked a much improved side in the second half as Liverpool seemed to rest on their laurels.
Sunderland made them pay in the 57th minute when some good industry by Gyan on the right side of Liverpool’s touchline; the Ghana international teed up Phil Bardsley who sent in a great cross to find Seb Larsson unmarked at the back post and the Swedish midfielder volleyed the ball into the back of the net in superb style.
Liverpool’s second half performance looked tired and jaded but their efforts were also thwarted by Sunderland’s new signing Wes Brown who was an immense presence for the Black Cats at the back and a constant thorn in Liverpool’s side.
The match ended 1-1 which can only be seen as a disappointment for Dalglish as his side had the game in their control until they took their foot off the pedal in the second half.
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Liverpool 1 – 1 Sunderland
Full Time: Richardson clears and the game ends. Sunderland’s second half performance was certainly an improvement on their first, with an excellent goal from Seb Larsson. Conversely, Liverpool seemed to just run out of steam in the second 45 minutes and a draw looks like a fair result.
90min+4: Mignolet catches a cross from the right comfortably. Liverpool might have one more chance.
90min+2: Cattermole has a weak shot saved. Wes Brown clears again and Sunderland break but once again Cattermole has a poor shot and it goes over.
90min: Liverpool try to mount an attack but their play is congested in the middle and a careless ball from the back gives Sunderland possession, who promptly win a free kick inside Liverpool’s half.
88min: Wes Brown is all over the pitch as himself and Dirk Kuyt go for a header in midfield and Brown catches the Dutch striker on the back of the head. Kuyt is bandaged up and ready to go again.
87min: Chance for Andy Carroll as he gets the better of Wes Brown but his header goes just wide of the post.
86min: Looked like there was a chance to break there for the Reds but Lucas is sloppy in possession to give it away.
85min: A very good run by Adam into the box is sent into the Sunderland box but it is a little too short for a Liverpool player to get onto.
84min: The ball has been pinged from one half to the other and Sessegnon creates a half chance with a poor effort from outside the Liverpool box that never looked like troubling Reina.
80min: Agger fouls Sessegnon. The goalscorer Sebastian Larsson is replaced by David Vaughan. Reina collects expertly from the free kick.
79min: Another great clearance from Brown as the former Man United defender wins a free kick.
78min: Larsson is bizarelly booked after tripping on the ball, landing on it and accidentally handling it.
77min: Wes Brown wins a free kick to eleviate the pressure around the Sunderland box. He looks like a great signing for Steve Bruce.
75min: Raul Meireles comes on for Luis Suarez who looks tired after a summer full of football.
73min: An Andy Carroll effort wins a corner for Liverpool to lift the fans. The ball is whipped in to Danny Agger who was always stretching for it and Mignolet collects.
70min: Liverpool look a little jaded at the moment and Sunderland are playing the better football.
69min: Good play from Sunderland down their left wing but the ball is eventually cleared and Liverpool are on the attack.
66min: Seb Larsson shoots over. Not the best effort.
65min: Charlie Adam is booked for a challenge just outside his own box on Lee Cattermole. That has been coming for the Scottish international as he has given away a few fouls today. Free kick to Sunderland.
63min: Asamoah Gyan is on the deck after a coming together with Jamie Carragher.
61min: Kuyt replaces Henderson and is straight into the action, forcing a corner from Wes Brown. The corner is put straight onto Andy Carroll’s head but the big man’s low effort is well saved by Mignolet.
60min: Jordan Henderson is booked for a poor challenge on former teammate Jack Colback. It looks like Dirk Kuyt is about to come on and it could be for Henderson.
59min: Sunderland have a spring in their step now as Sessegnon shoots from just outside the box but the ball goes over the bar.
57min: Absolutely excellent finish by Larsson to equalise for Sunderland. A cross comes in from Phil Bardsley on the right flank and Larsson is unmarked at the back post to volley it past Reina. Great goal on his debut.
55min: Great delivery from Enrique on the left is picked off the toe of Carroll by Wes Brown. Nearly a certain goal, great defending by Brown, who’s having a good game. The resultant corner is headed over by Carroll.
53min: Sunderland are getting into the game more and more, as Larsson sends a great ball into the box which Gyan heads straight at Reina. That was a chance for Sunderland.
51min: Richardson’s cross from the left is missed by the Sunderland attackers but a nervy chest back from Jose Enrique is nearly pounced upon by a Sunderland player.
49min: Great take down from Suarez brings Carroll in but he shows too much of the ball to the Ferdinand.
48min: Charlie Adam maneouvres a yard of space and sends a decent effort just over the bar. He’s having a good league debut.
46min: Appeals for hand ball as it looks to have struck Wes Brown’s arm inside the Sunderland box but the ref waves play on. Replays show that the referee was probably right; the ball struck Brown’s knee and then touched his arm. Not a penalty.
46min: The game gets back underway at Anfield. No changes to either side.
Half time: Referee Phil Dowd blows the whistle for half time. Liverpool are quite comfortable and can possibly count themselves unlucky after missing a penalty. Sunderland are fortunate to still have 11 men as Richardson escaped with just a yellow for his foul on Suarez. Steve Bruce will need to do something about his teams lack of possession and his forwards are getting no support from midfield or the flanks. If it stays this way, Liverpool are in for a good afternoon.
45min: Liverpool win a free kick on the left of the halfway line as Ferdinand fouls Carroll. Bardsley is booked for his protests.
44min: A couple of half chances for Liverpool after a corner eventually ends with a yellow card to Jamie Carragher after the Liverpool captain is high and dangerous on Gyan.
43min: Larsson sends in a great delivery and Gyan and Sessegnon are only inches away from putting a finishing touch on it. Let off for Liverpool.
42min: Sunderland win a free kick after Lucas fouls Sessegnon in a decent position.
40min: Sunderland’s best move of the match with some good passing ends with Cattermole’s run into the box intercepted by the Liverpool defence.
38min: Lucas picks wins the ball in Sunderland’s half but his shot just goes wide of Mignolet’s goal.
37min: Strong challenge from Flanagan on Larsson but it was an honest attempt at the ball and the youngster escapes a caution.
36min: Liverpool are passing the ball around for fun now and Sunderland can’t get anywhere near it.
34min: Excellent effort from Stewart Downing as he picks the ball up on the right hand side of midfield and runs from the half way line to the Sunderland box, cuts inside and sends a thunderous effort off the crossbar. What a goal that would have been.
33min: Luis Enrique’s probing ball wins a throw in deep in Sunderland’s half. Charlie Adam sends a teasing ball into the box but it is picked up by Mignolet.
30min: Half an hour gone and Sunderland are struggling for possession and chances. Liverpool are playing well but still don’t seem to be in top gear as they haven’t really needed to be.
29min: Sessegnon had an effort on Reina’s goal collected with relative comfort before Adam hits one of his first poor deliveries from a corner for Liverpool.
28min: Andy Carroll sets up a chance from a Charlie Adam corner with a header but no ‘Pool players have a go.
27min: Lee Cattermole is booked for a challenge on Suarez. It’s a silly booking for the Sunderland captain as there is still a long way to go and he will have to be careful.
25min: Andy Carroll’s credentials as a classic centre forward are highlighted as wins the ball well surrounded by defenders but the ball is eventually cleared.
23min: Charlie Adam hits a speculative effort towards Mignolet in the Sunderland goal. Worth a go.
22min: Sunderland test the Liverpool defence with a well worked corner as Larsson sends it to the back post and Wes Brown sends a looping header back towards goal but it is eventually gathered by Reina.
21min: A great delivery from Adam finds Andy Carroll on the right of the Sunderland box and the big Geordie finishes well but it will not stand as Carroll pushed Anton Ferdinand in the back to win the ball. Still 1-0 to Liverpool.
19min: Downing shows some good pace down the left wing with a nice exchange between himself and Suarez but Enrique gives it away.
16min: Some more good Liverpool passing ends with a clearance from Wes Brown. They’re stroking it around with confidence now and Sunderland are finding it hard to get it off them.
14min: Sunderland have two half chances in response to the goal but neither trouble Reina.
12min: It’s a goal for Liverpool and Suarez. An excellent delivery from Charlie Adam from a free kick on the edge of the Sunderland box is sent in with pace and is brilliantly finished by Suarez’s header.
10min: Better play from Liverpool as their passing is crisp and swift. Two crosses are cleared from dangerous positions, firstly from Flanagan and then Downing’s first great delivery.
8min: Downing gets his first foray down the left line but disappointingly runs into a Sunderland defender.
7min: Sunderland get away with that and Seb Larsson sends a free kick in a decent position wide.
6min: Richardson gets off lightly with a yellow card and a penalty to Liverpool. Suarez steps up and skies it over the bar. Terrible penalty from the Liverpool striker.
5min: Larsson’s corner is cleared and Suarez breaks and is one on one with Mignolet in the Sunderland goal but is tripped by Kieran Richardson.
4min: Sunderland are passing the ball well early on and they win their second corner off Enrique.
2min: Jose Enrique gives away a corner after defending a cross. Wes Brown had a chance to put the resultant set piece into the net but his flick rolls harmlessly into Pepe Reina’s arms.
1min: The game is underway and Liverpool win a free kick in their own half after a foul on Daniel Agger.
0min: We’re just moments away from the first game of the new Premier League season at Anfield.
Kenny Dalglish has named the Liverpool team that will host Sunderland at Anfield for the first game of the new Premier League season kicking off at 3pm.
Captain Steven Gerrard will not take part however as he recovers from a groin infection and is set to be back next month.
Without their talismanic captain, Kenny Dalglish is able to give a chance to new midfield signings Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam.
Adam, who signed from Blackpool for a fee of around of £7million, will provide the passes in the centre of midfield that players like Andy Carroll will be able to take advantage of.
Liverpool team to play Sunderland
Reina Flannagan Carragher Agger Enrique Henderson Adam Lucas Downing Suarez CarrollSubs: Doni, Meireles, Kuyt, Robinson, Kelly